I was born and raised a Roman Catholic. I think that a great deal of my political and societal beliefs have come from the fact that I grew up in a fairly progressive parish, which had a strong sense of social justice. As a result of this I still identify as a Catholic, Mrsdave and I were married in Catholic church and we’ve chosen to have Buster Boy and the Troll Princess baptised. However, if I’m completely honest with myself, it’s probably more accurate to describe me as a religious agnostic, I believe that there is a God, but I don’t claim to be in possession of the universal truth. For every thing I like about the Catholic Church, there’s another thing I can’t agree with, but I enjoy the ritual, the sense of community and the place that the Church has in my identity.

Which is why Mrsdave thinks it’s hilarious that I want a plenary indulgence.
Indulgences are like a get out of jail free card for purgatory. Somewhere along the line it was decided that although your sins are forgiven once you confess them, there is still a temporal penalty that must be paid in purgatory before you can go to heaven, so naturally there needed to be a counter-balance to this, which is where indulgences came in.

There were a number of different things you could do to gain an indulgence, and some indulgences would only partly relieve your term in purgatory, while a plenary indulgence would completely remove your temporal penalty. Unsurprisingly a market in indulgences sprang up, with scammers becoming professional pardoners and handing out indulgences for a fee. The Church certainly wasn’t blameless in this either, there’s no shortage of examples of Popes and other clergy using indulgences as a fund raising exercise.

As I said, it’s probably more accurate to call me a religious agnostic. I think it’s rather arrogant to think that if there is an omnipotent God he’s incapable of appearing in different forms to different people, which pretty much puts me at odds with one of the basic tenants of the Roman Catholic Church. So why is it that I want a plenary indulgence? Call it after-life insurance or superstition, I don’t know, but I know that whatever deity exists I’ve done enough to piss them off, so I figure it makes sense to take whatever steps necessary to ameliorate that. If I’ve thrown my hat in with the Church of Rome, I might as well take whatever redemption that they have on offer.

What makes the whole situation more laughable is that logically, I find the idea of seeking an indulgence from a Church whose teachings I only partially agree with really silly. Logic, however, is not strong enough to convince me.

8 thoughts on “Superstition

  1. What happened Dave, did you, Jack & Kieran kick on after the blog-fest yesterday to the new Albury strip club, or something equally depraved? Come on, out with it.

  2. Ray: Dave was confined in the same car as Keiran and Jack all the way back home after getting a skin full at the blog-fest and Keiran, the self confessed atheist, has obviously challenged Dave’s beliefs. Poor Dave is apparently feeling a need to confess his sins and I reckon he could go to the top of the blogging charts if he confessed to the world right here on his blog. Why should his priest have all the fun hearing him out?

    Dave: I think you are finally growing up and developing a conscience. Good for you. mate! The next step is to identify your beliefs (see Keirans definition of belief at the top of his blog) and the read ‘Conversations with God’ written by Neale Donald Walsch. I guarantee you will no longer need a plenary indulgence and Mrsdave will stop sniggering.

  3. JR: I’m afraid not. Anyone in IT will tell you that there is no incantation or sacrifice that can be made to keep data truly safe. As we always say “I hope your backups are good.”

  4. I’m in exactly the same boat as you Dave. While I want to believe in something I sit at Easter mass and just can’t convince myself about the whole Jesus rose from the dead thing. So I spend the entire mass wondering how billions of people have been taken in by this for the past 2000 years until part of my brain says, surely this means there must be something in it.

    So, here I am at best sceptical about the cornerstone of Catholicism and Christianity, yet I still call myself a Catholic.

  5. I heard an interesting interview on RN a while back with a theologian who had basically tried to find out whether Jesus actually existed. He couldn’t find any serious historian who denied Christ’s existence, so there is something in that.

    The problem, unsurprisingly, comes from the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has been an incredibly powerful political organisation for the last 2000 years, which means that the message has been misused and abused. I think that at a grass roots level the Catholic Church in Australia is quite progressive, however the hierarchy is anything but.

    I don’t know about you Wah, but I find something very comforting in the ritual of the Catholic Church, which is largely what keeps me there. I think that I need a framework for my faith, so I guess that Catholicism is as good as anything else.

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